night photography

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Happy Friday!

These images were taken on July 3rd. My friend, Laily invited me to her neighborhood firework show and it was a great one. Since it wasn’t the National Mall, I decided I was going to concentrate on a few different things. 1. on just the fireworks, 2. the crowds of people, 3. different exposure techniques. In the end, it was the images of just the fireworks that I liked the most. Not bad for a neighborhood show!

Unfortunately, I did not take pictures on the 4th. It had been raining all evening and to be honest, it just scared me away. I had experience of rain on the fourth and the fireworks had been less than spectacular so I decided to just sit it out. It was a last minute decision I honestly kinda regret. It looked like the beginning of the firework display was awesome but then fizzled into just colorful smoke by the end. Either way, there’s always next year 🙂

And now that I have a better idea of where the fireworks are shooting from, I think I’ll be more prepared for next time!

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Last week I got invited to go to Altaire’s rooftop. If you don’t know Altaire, it is a luxury apartment complex right off 395 in Crystal City.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia but I’ve always known it for the Pentagon and a few good restaurants. It has actually come up in conversation recently because Amazon has decided to build an office there. But other than that, I’ve never really spent that much time there.

So I was excited to get the invite. I was wondering what kind of views I could get from Crystal City since I’ve never actually photographed anything there. HOLY COW! My jaw dropped. The views are stunning. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sharing images from here for a while because I was literally like a kid in a candy store just snapping away. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in one of these apartments and waking up with a view like this. I don’t think I would ever leave my house. Either that or set up a tripod on my balcony and just time lapse it all day. LOL.

This image was taken just after sunset. I was waiting for the sun to go down so that I could get these car trails along the highway. I think it’s so interesting to look at all the different layers of this image and try to figure out where everything is located. For example, I think those purple lights in front of the US Capitol building is the Wharf, right?

Thanks again to the good people at Altaire for having Larry and I there. I had a B-L-A-S-T!

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 0.8 seconds and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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I just got back from my second trip to Chicago but my first real time visiting with a camera in my hand. I booked this trip with the intention to scout out photo locations for our upcoming photo workshop in Chicago. I wanted to get a feel for the city and the logicistics of getting around. So if you’re interested in joining me for a week in Chicago, click here.

In general, I loved visiting the city. Compared to New York City or even Washington DC, it’s a lot quieter as far as car noises and even people walking around. It’s so photogenic, meaning everywhere you turned could be a great new image. With the so many different elevated views, it was difficult to take a bad picture. I especially liked being among the skyscrapers. Even during the middle of the day, you can find some very interesting shadow play. Overall you can’t go wrong with a photo adventure in Chicago – even if it’s just for a few days.

Side note, they don’t call it the “windy city’ for nothing. Even on a nice, sunshining day, it can get really cold with the wind. I highly suggest packing at least gloves and a hat in your camera bag for those just in case moments. You don’t want to let being too cold be the reason why you don’t capture your shot. I was there at the very end of March and I wore my gloves everyday.

So we had a good 72 hours in Chicago packed full of photography. Here’s what we did:

Click here to read more

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When I was looking up different places to take pictures of Chicago at night, the Chicago Theatre came up in so many of my search results. I think if you’re visiting Chicago it’s a must see. But most of the other images I have seen were of cars driving past and getting the light trails from that. I wanted to try something a little different. I saw some other images where you could get an elevated view point, so I thought I would combine the two and hope for something cool.

This was taken after dinner and dessert. We walked over to the sign and I noticed how many people were walking by taking selfies so I thought it would be interesting to try to get a long exposure of that. It also helped that the Chick-fil-a was right there so I was even able to capture people walking out of the fast food restaurant. I think it turned out a little creepy but an interesting take on the landmark.

So if you’re interested in joining me in Chicago in July, we’re actually running a sale on the workshop. Click here for the details and looking forward to seeing you there 🙂 I heard it can get real hot in the summertime which I can’t even imagine at all. It just snowed there again over the weekend!

PS Can I be honest. One of the highlights of my day is when I look at my blog and see people have ‘hearted’ a blog post even if I haven’t shared it on social media. It honestly makes me smile knowing that you just come to my blog just to see it. I can’t tell who does it but I really, really appreciate it! Thank you!

My camera settings for this image is F20 at 1.6 sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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The other day my friend called me and said “I can’t believe you don’t weigh 1,000lbs”. I laughed and asked why? Her reasoning was that she spent the last week telecommuting and working from home and she felt like she spent every hour on the hour in the kitchen. Each time she’d go in there, she’d find a snack or eat a full on meal which caused her to think she gained 10lbs working from home. All I could do was laugh even more and said, “you’re probably doing that because you’re procrastinating”. We laughed more about how much food she ate and it led me to think how lucky I am to be able to find a “work at home” balance. How many times have you had plans to work from home but wound up doing the laundry or cleaning your countertops because you were avoiding something? You can’t tell, but I’m raising both hands up in the air because it’s something I am constantly struggling with.

It has taken me years to figure out a schedule but no matter how much I think I’ve figured it out- when I’m most productive or what works best for me, it is a constant change. Something that worked for me last month, may not work for me today.

So here are a few tips I’ve come up with for those of you who work from home and still want to be productive:

  • Set a schedule and stick to it like a regular office job. Just like showing up to a job at 9am, you gotta keep to maintain that same mindset. Working from home is great because sometimes you can create the schedule with what works best for you, but you have to be honest with yourself. I used to think I was most productive in the mornings, but more recently I’ve found new inspiration in working in the evenings. So with that said, I will schedule my days to have my most creative times at night and do all the busy work like replying to emails and client work during the day.
  • Change your environment. Sometimes it feels like you are trapped in your house. You spend every waking moment in the house and it’s so difficult to get out in to the real world, especially when it’s cold outside. To break that up, I’ve actually been going to coffee shops to get things done. There’s something about seeing other people work on their computers that motivates me to work on mine. I’ve found myself more focused on my task. Whether it’s preparing blog posts or catching up on photography tutorials, I love getting out of the house with the intention of getting work done. Usually I’ll just leave in the morning and get as much done as I can until I start feeling hungry. I’ll go home eat lunch, reset, and will be eager to get back to where I left off at home. Even if you can’t leave your house, just changing rooms like working from the dining room instead of your desk can cause a major positive shift in workflow.
  • Take breaks. This is where I express my gratitude to Frankenstein. Having a dog has taught me and forced me to take breaks. Whether it’s for a short walk for him to go to the bathroom or a quick belly rub session, Frankie has taught me the importance of walking away from the computer to take a quick breather. These little breaks always put a smile on my face. Even when you really don’t want to, taking these quick breaks has taught me to refocus on what is important and how to prioritize my time more efficiently. I think if it weren’t for him, burn out could come way more easily and frequently.

Those are just a few tips. Don’t worry, I have plenty more. Let me know if you’re interested and I can definietly make this a series.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1.6sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens. It was taken during a full moon rising behind the US Capitol.

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One of my most asked questions I receive is “where is your favorite place to shoot in DC?” My answer is almost always, the Lincoln Memorial. I just say the memorial because it’s such a great starting point. Not only do you have the reflecting pool right in front, but to either side you have the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. So when you’re not feeling inspired by one, it’s so easy to go to the next. I love how easy and convient the Lincoln Memorial is. It is also a great place to photograph sunrise, mid-day or sunset. You really can’t go wrong!

But my absolute favorite time to photograph the memorial is definietly early morning. Not necessarily sunrise like you may think. I love when the sun has come up over the horizon for a little bit and it’s shining on the president himself. The glow, the shadows, omg everything is so perfect. There really is nothing better.

So if you’re interested in learning more about photographing Washington DC, all my tips and tricks, check my recently published book, Snap DC. All the knowledge and experience I’ve built up over the years, all in one easy to read book.

But if that’s not good enough, I have one last reminder about next Wednesday, July 18th. Geoff Livingston, Focus on the Story International Photo Festival and I will be hosting an evening workshop. We’ll be photographing the sunset at the Reflecting Pool and then practicing some street photography and monument photography at night. It will be a great time! Click here for more info.

Have a great weekend everyone! And a lucky Friday the 13th!

My camera settings for this image is F10 at 1/15th of a second ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.